What destroys trust in government?

The public’s confidence in the government’s ability to handle the coronavirus crisis has fallen sharply in the past fortnight, with less than half of voters now having faith in decisions made by ministers, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer.

Watching government trying to do something……

35 thoughts on “What destroys trust in government?”

  1. And journalists have been doing their best to undermine faith in decisions by ministers. But government’s more than just politicians. Government’s also the machinery of government. The Civil Service, government agencies & advisers. Ministers make decisions based on what they’re advised by the “experts”. And the result of decisions is supposed to be delivered by “experts”. And some of the experts have been showing considerable lack of expertise.

  2. I think that it is hard to become an expert in a field that has not been experienced before. The so-called expertise is the result of predictions based on everything from witchcraft to mathematics, and the proof of the pudding ultimately is in the eating.

  3. @Dave Ward: academics get a taste of being accountable for the outcomes of their “expertise” and don’t like it one bit. Going from “government must listen to us” to “government can’t blame us if listening to us didn’t work” is quite a leap…

  4. @Excavator Man
    There’s certainly enough expertise been claimed though. But not the expertise to realise – after a simulation exercise showed an infection disease pandemic would require large supplies of protective equipment – it’d be a good idea to stockpile some. Or that it’d be better to sort out infection testing capability before you urgently need it. Unfortunately the expertise demonstrated was in how to nag the public on what they should choose for lunch

  5. @ bis
    It has been reported that the government *did* have a large stockpile of PPE, which is why the NHS as a whole didn’t run out despite their largest supplier having been put into lockdown. I haven’t seen details of “Operation Cygnus” so I don’t know if the pandemic starting next door to the main supplier of PPE was part of one of the scenarios. We have seen lots of complaints about hospital staff being *worried* about the risk of running out of PPE and a very few complaints about one running out of something when other hospitals had plenty (so that’s NHS incompetence). But if there hadn’t been a large stockpile the whole NHS would have run out before the Hubei factories reopened.

  6. If one looks at the worldometer or any comparable dataset the shocking thing about the UK is the vastly higher death rate among those admitted to hospital. The wonderful NHS has a failure rate >50%.

  7. @BiS


    10. is all about stockpiles of PPE for a pandemic. And the national stockpile was indeed released.


    Of course it would appear that they may not have all the things they should have in the stockpile


  8. John77
    I’ve been looking for hospital admittance figures on worldometer etc. Do you have a link?

  9. “the shocking thing about the UK is the vastly higher death rate among those admitted to hospital. The wonderful NHS has a failure rate >50%.”

    I don’t know the answer, hence simply a question, but could a factor be that the UK might have taken a different line to some in terms of when to encourage that people should go to a hospital. Ie, “stay at home with it unless it gets very bad” versus possible shifts in emphasise elsewhere? To save lives the NHS of course….

  10. @ Roue le Jour
    Sorry my comment was a bit scrambled.
    From worldometer I saw and worried about UK’s death:cases ratio which could be partly explained by only testing those with obvious symptoms. The admissions to hospital numbers are part of the daily Downing Street press briefing (announced at the beginning), followed by number of deaths and later in the meeting the numbers still in hospital – from which one gets the number released alive (I-D-S) which is, shockingly <D.
    Typing is not as quick as talking let alone thinking and my fingers failed to keep up and I missed out about three lines of reasoning

  11. “So, just like climate science then?”

    Exactly – although I doubt that lot will suddenly admit they might (just MIGHT) be wrong…

  12. BIS,

    “Ministers make decisions based on what they’re advised by the “experts”. ”

    The problem is that you have to be a bit of an expert to know the experts. Like the best managers of software teams are people who at least have done some software development. Maybe not the top guys at it, but they know enough to smell bullshit and bad ideas. And they gain experience and their own set of experts before they get near the top. I don’t know a whole lot about being a DBA, but I know really good DBAs to ask if I smell bullshit. People who’ve proven their skills in a team I’ve been in.

    We don’t do that with government. Matt Hancock is probably as good as anyone we’ve had as health secretary in my life, but he’s worked in health for 0 days before he started that job.

  13. Number of actual infections unknown. Number of cases of disease, 0,2% of population, of which 85% mild. Deaths 0,02% of population, mostly among terminal cases.

    And… the lives and prosperity of 66 million ruined to achieve what benefit?

    What destroys trust in Government?

  14. BoM4 “The problem is that you have to be a bit of an expert to know the experts”

    As I was told by a manager and mentor long ago— you don’t have to do everything yourself, you don’t have to know how to do it yourself, but need is to know enough to tell how well someone else is doing their job.

  15. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/8000-london-hospital-virus-patients-discharged-a4423136.html

    shows the number discharged from London = double London deaths.

    There doesn’t seem to be a complete data series on discharges. And no data on discharges in Italy or China – what we do have are “recoveries” in China, which will include those who were not admitted but did recover. Difficult to say how the UK is faring on the treatment front.

    What is very clear is that UK testing is lagging horribly. The current numbers show UK mortality for those aged over 60 who get the virus are very high – which seems unlikely to be the case given the fact that UK healthcare was not overwhelmed in the way Wuhan or Lombardy were. So we are probably detecting very few infections, far fewer than the Italians.

  16. @ ken
    Thanks – that is encouraging although it is NOT double deaths; it starts OK and then indulges in bullshit.
    5.443 with confirmed *or suspected* coronavirus discharged is not twice the 4,300 reported deaths (which are almost certainly modestly under-reported, some deaths are reported up to a week late). By adding a wild guess for discharges from Bart’s to a figure that includes an unknown number of patients who never had covid-19 in the first place it gets to 8,000 which is less than twice 4,300, let alone the accurate figure, not “about double” as it claims.
    Nevertheless it is mildly encouraging as it’s better than the numbers I had estimated.

  17. “There’s certainly enough expertise been claimed though. But not the expertise to realise – after a simulation exercise showed an infection disease pandemic would require large supplies of protective equipment – it’d be a good idea to stockpile some. Or that it’d be better to sort out infection testing capability before you urgently need it. Unfortunately the expertise demonstrated was in how to nag the public on what they should choose for lunch”

    One would hope that when this is all over that PHE’s remit is altered to remove any responsibility for individual health (ie what people eat etc) and legally focus it entirely on Public Health, ie things like epidemics etc that put us all at risk. If Joe Public wishes to eat himself into a blimp, while smoking and drinking like no tomorrow, it does not affect my health one jot. Ergo that is not Public Health, its Private Health. Obesity, lung cancer and liver disease are not public health matters.

  18. “If one looks at the worldometer or any comparable dataset the shocking thing about the UK is the vastly higher death rate among those admitted to hospital. The wonderful NHS has a failure rate >50%.”

    I learned 2 things the other day. One was an item on the news that researchers were planning to test the sewage system in Tyne and Wear for traces of Covid-19, as way of sampling the overall level of infection in a given area. The implication being that CV-19 exists in faeces and urine.

    The second thing I learned was from a friend, who has a friend who works as a nurse in the CV-19 section of an NHS hospital. Apparently the nurses there are wearing adult nappies under their PPE and pissing themselves rather than de-robing to go to the toilet while on shifts.

    I’m surprised that as many NHS patients survive as they do.

  19. “Anybody still think (real) Brexit will happen?”

    It will be quietly shelved, with CV being the perfect cover to “Bury Bad News”. Mind you, with some of the reports now surfacing, the EU might not last much longer…

  20. The best figures seem to be deaths per million population, though even there you have to be careful how deaths are overcounted.
    To add some perspective Spain and Italy are 450-500 deaths per million, yet a bad flu outbreak a few years ago saw a 888 deaths per million for all of Europe.
    Oddly no one seems to be talking about Belgium which has 612 deaths per million population so well above Spain and Italy rates let alone France and Metherlands on 350 and 260

  21. @john77 It’s not just Barts. It’s 7 of the 17 Acute hospital London trusts, and the ES appear to have assumed a similar discharge profile across the hospitals that did not report based on the number of acute care beds.

    Since the number of dead by trust is released by the NHS, we can compare the ES numbers to the number of dead by trust, which comes to 2554 dead vs. 5443 released. So a ratio of 2.1x


    So the ES is roughly right.

    Interestingly the ratio of released vs dead varies dramatically between hospital trusts, with guys and St Thomas managing more than 5x releases vs. deaths, while others like Kingston, Homerton, London NW, Imperial and Royal Free managing less than 2x. One would like to know whether this is due to patient profiles or whether there are differences in care.

    London probably has better healthcare than the rest of the UK (raises likely survival) vs, London had more cases (lowers survival). Likely to indicate UK releases > deaths (probably around 2x – although more data would be better), although this tells us nothing about the quality of NHS treatment vs. RoW.

  22. @Dave Ward


    UK Public Health Bureaucrats Slammed as ‘Not Fit for Purpose’, Caught ‘Like Rabbits in Headlights’

    Peter Hitchens today – nails it on MPs/Ministers hiding behind sofa twiddling thumbs

    I won’t dwell yet again on the damage the Government has already done, and which deepens every day. I only say that without serious and angry opposition, this will only get worse. This clueless Cabinet is motivated only by fear.
    People who strove all their lives for office now have no idea what to do with the powers they thought they wanted, and are terrified of the responsibilities that came with them. They do not understand what they are doing and are not in charge of their own destiny.
    And until they are afraid of the wrath of the voters, or perhaps of the courts, they will continue to hide in their bunker, biting their nails and wondering how to get out of the mess they panicked themselves into a month ago.
    They cannot admit they gravely overestimated the danger of the virus, and gravely underestimated the damage they would do to the economy.
    Please write now to your MPs, reminding them that they were elected to put your case to the Government, not the other way round.
    Tell them that this has gone on long enough and is now bound to cost more lives than it saves, as well as all the other damage. And if you get a reply that has obviously been written by a machine, write again.
    This will at least keep within the bounds of constitution and law. For, if something does not give soon, I very much fear that millions will simply cease to obey rules which no longer make sense. Without a clear hope of release from house arrest and forced idleness, many people will despair. And it will be grim for us all if that happens

  23. Sorry for mangled link above – /b instead of /a in first link. Ignore first Hitchens red

    More from Peter Hitchens today:

    Another joy killed off by the panic…
    Last week I went to the blood bank to make my twice-yearly deposit of a whole armful of gore. I mention this not to boast but because, since I started doing it 50 years ago, I have greatly enjoyed it and can’t understand why more people don’t do it.
    The best bit of all nowadays is the text message telling you where and when your pint has been used, which arrives not long afterwards and provides a lovely warm glow. But it was a bit unusual, thanks to the virus panic.
    I usually go in London, but for various reasons could not, and so went in Oxford. The staff, as always, were a joy, full of humour and efficiency despite having to wear face-masks (it is physically impossible to stick a needle in someone’s arm while staying 6ft away from them. Try it if you don’t believe me).
    Only one thing dampened the occasion. I had that morning received a stern letter telling me that, thanks to the virus panic, I will be banned from giving blood once I reach 70, a date now alarmingly close.
    This is a reversal of a previous sensible policy which allowed regular donors to keep on giving to almost any age. I do hope it does not become permanent. If I ever do reach 70, I really do not want to be protected to death

    Agree, more overreaction

    @Mr Lud, one for you

    Dismal news from the criminal justice system where – in a change of great importance – juries are no longer told they must be persuaded ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that a defendant is guilty. They must merely be ‘sure’.
    These expressions do not mean the same thing. You may be ‘sure’ you want a pepperoni pizza rather than a vegan one. But the word touches a different bit of the brain from the one reached by the nagging, awkward phrase ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
    There is some suggestion jurors were finding it hard to understand what ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ meant. Well, my reply to any such juror is that if you don’t know what it means, then you are not fit to sit on a jury, and should stand aside

    “Sure” implies “Balance of probability”, Won’t England need a “Not Proven” verdict option?

    Let’s put lockdown in the dock
    So many people were quick to go to court over the European issue, which is a far smaller matter than the current wrecking of our economy and throttling of our once-safe liberties.
    So far, there has been silence in the courts over the Government’s decision to put us all under house arrest, the first attempt in history to quarantine the healthy rather than the sick. I gather this is pretty certainly unlawful, as the 1984 Public Health Act was never designed to be used for such a wide purpose.
    If it is to be tested, a group of public-spirited citizens, helped by sympathetic lawyers, need to come together quickly to seek a Judicial Review of the shutdown in the High Court.
    They also need to win what is called a ‘preemptive order on costs’ to ensure the Government pays for the case, as is only right in a matter of such importance. I hope this happens

    I’d love to see Hancock, Khan, Raab and more in dock

  24. @PJF

    Someone should start a crowdfunding to have Neil Ferguson shot

    @John B



    Sewage testing started by Dutch

    Nurses in nappies – I call BS

  25. “Someone should start a crowdfunding to have Neil Ferguson shot”

    I’m in, but ONLY if the shot is aimed to cause a slow, lingering death – just like the UK economy is going to suffer, thanks to his dick-headed predictions…

  26. Shouldn’t your ire be aimed at those who employed him? If the gardener you take on has a track record of damaging your neighbours’ lawns, and you knowingly go ahead and employ him anyway, where does the (inevitable) blame lie?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *